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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hoarders: Stories of Extreme Collectors: John Hancock

Working as a feature writer on Fraggs gave me the freedom to come up with my own articles and segments. Well, it gave me the freedom to pitch articles and segments and see if I could get them picked up anyway. One of those segments was "Hoarders: Stories of Extreme Collectors;" A segment that featured a different hardcore collector every month. One collector was featured in the magazine, and 2 more were interviewed, and awaiting their run. When the magazine re-structured and became a weekly publication, there was no longer any room for the Hoarders feature. Rather than have these 2 collectors stories go untold, I elected to feature them here on With the Portland Retro Gaming Expo on the horizon, the natural choice for this week was...

Extreme Collector & champion for good

John Hancock started to get serious about collecting games in the mid 90s. At that time, John was reacquiring NES games he grew up with, and building upon his collection of Sega Genesis games that he played in high school, adding to his then scant library of around 100 titles. Living in Redding, CA John quickly pursued all information about where to collect games, hitting flea marts, used game stores, and often traveling around to used video rental stores; sometimes going as far as 100 miles away. After collecting for some time, John was introduced to online forums such as, where he got connected to other serious collectors. It was then that his knowledge and pursuit of oddball video games exploded. John attended the Classic Gaming Expo in Burlingame, CA, where he had the good fortune to meet Rick Weis. Soon after, John moved to Washington State, where he got involved with the Northwest Classic Games Enthusiasts, in Seattle. A year later John would help organize a retro video game show in the Portland Area with Rick Weis, which would become the famed, Portland Retrogaming Expo. Six years, and several video game scores later, John is still actively involved with the Retrogaming Expo, as well as organizing a smaller annual video game show for charity in Kelso, WA, to help fundraise for the Children's Justice & Advocacy Center. CJAC is a child friendly agency where children are interviewed and supported after disclosing child abuse. The Show is called Cowlitz Gamers for Kids, and has raised over $4,000 over the last two shows.

Q: How many games in your collection?
A:I have around 6,000 games currently. My collection started over 15 years ago with a box of Atari 7800 games from a San Jose Flea Mart. I sold my then large Star Wars Collection and used the money to start on my NES Collection. I now have 19 complete US collections. They are:

1.  Nes liscenced US set
2.  Sega Genesis CIB
Looks more like a store display
than part of a personal collection.
3.  Nintendo 64 CIB
4.  Sega CD CIB
5.  Sega 32X CIB
6.  N-gage CIB including online exclusives
7   Odyssey 2 CIB
8. CIB
9.  Atari 7800
10. Microvision CIB
11. Action Max CIB
12. Interactivevision CIB
13. Neo Geo Pocket CIB
14. RCA Studio II CIB
15. Sega Master System CIB minus Sonic UPC label
16. Nuon
17. Dreamcast CIB
18. Game Gear(loose US cart set)
19.  APF M1000(loose cart set of games)

I am also a boxed light pen away from having a Boxed CIB retail set of a Vectrex Collection.  

Q: What are your favorites?
A:  My favorite games include Robotron 2084 on the 7800, and  Burgertime on the Intellivision.

Q: Has your collection taken over your house, or just a room?
A:  My collection resides in a game room which is a converted garage. It took over a year to construct with custom shelving. The garage only had one electrical outlet when we first bought the house.

Original Atari dust jackets? This guy puts me to shame!
Q: What can you tell us about the rig in your game room?
A: I have Three Television Sets and computer monitors in the game room. I have 32 game systems connected. I have various system selectors for each TV set to connect them all. I use heavy duty hardware shelves to house my game consoles. I usually just use folding lawn chairs for furniture... that way I can easily just move them around to the different TV sets to play things.

Q: What's the largest set within your collection?
A:  My largest set of games is my NES set, with over 800 games that include variants, homebrews, and hacks.

Q: How many consoles do you own, and what sticks out amongst them?
A:  I have over 160 unique consoles. Some of the more bizarre are the White Bally Astrocade, Boxed Memorex Video Information System, and a Pioneer Laseractive.

Q: Approximately how many peripherals do you own?
A:  I have never counted my peripherals, so I would guess in the hundreds.  

Q: What's the craziest thing in your collection?
Hard to say something specifically, but I guess a Boxed Intellivision Basic Cart with manual. A friend of mine gave it to me after scoring it at an estate sale for 25 cents.

Q: What's the crown jewel of your collection?
My Stadium Events cart for NES. I scored it for a mere $100. It is a long, long story but the short version is that I won a Mystery Box auction at a Classic Gaming Expo in 2005. I won a rare Atari 2600 cart Magicard, and then was offered an insane amount of trade for it. Among one of the things was Stadium Events.

Q: Can you tell us about your "Video Collector DVDs"?
I have created a series of DVDs showcasing different parts of my collection to help fellow collectors and enthusiasts pursue these things. The Videos are organized into volumes.  Each DVD showcases Games, System Packaging, and Accessories, for Sega, Nintendo, Oddball Systems, and now Atari.  My Atari 2 disc DVD has just been finished.   Each Volume DVD set is approximately an hour to two hours.  Each Volume is $10 plus shipping.  For more information contact me

I'd like to reach out and thank John for taking the time to talk to me, and for sharing his incredible collection with us. John also has a collection of videos on YouTube that can be viewed on his channel. He does a great job of showing off key pieces of gaming history, and introducing us to new and interesting artifacts. Here's some more of his collection in pictures:

I think it's a safe bet that John's SNES collection rivals your whole collection.

Party like it's 1977.

His shelving system is not unlike eStarland's.

Wow! I didn't know they made that many Lynx games.

It's times like this I wish I lived near the other Washington...

I admit it, I don't think I'd ever heard of a "Bally Astrocade" before talking to John.

If the first thing you notice in this pic is the garage door mechanism
then you need to work on your priorities.

EarthBound, Stadium Events and Cheetahmen! This guy has everything!


  1. Holy @#$%. And I mean that in the most positive and complimentary way possible. Awesome.

  2. Yeah, John's got a pretty damned impressive collection. I wouldn't expect anything less from one of the founders of the Portland Retro Gaming Expo.